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Was there a conspiracy behind JFK’s death? Interview with Jack Duffy, author of ‘The Man From 2063’

Jack DuffyJack Duffy is an attorney from Fort Worth, Texas.  The Man from 2063 is his first book.  On November 22, 1963 he was in school at Bruce Shulkey Elementary when he heard the news about President Kennedy’s assassination.  His parents were at the breakfast in Fort Worth, Texas, that morning when President Kennedy gave his last speech.  In 1970 he saw the Zapruder film for the first time.  He has been researching the JFK assassination since then.  He has interviewed many eyewitnesses including Marina Oswald and several Parkland physicians who treated JFK.  He has met many researchers who have written books on the assassination.  He came up with the idea for a time travel novel in 1998.  He has one of the largest private collections of materials on the JFK assassination.  He graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.A. in Political Science.  He then earned an M.B.A from Baylor University.  He then graduated from South Texas School of Law with a J.D.  He is an Eagle Scout.

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The Man From 2063Who are some of the key people connected with the JFK assassination who died suspiciously?

William Pitzer is one of the most important strange deaths. Pitzer was a naval commander who took the photos and X-rays of JFK’s autopsy.  Pitzer told his family he was going to go public with the photos after he retired from the Navy.  He was threatened with court martial if he talked about the autopsy. He was visited by CIA agents and warned not to reveal what he had observed at the autopsy. Pitzer made a 16 mm film of the autopsy.  In the mid 1960’s a Green Beret was asked to kill Pitzer for the CIA. He refused to kill him.  Later Pitzer was found dead in his lab at Bethesda naval hospital. His death was ruled a suicide. His 16mm film disappeared.   Dorothy Kilgallen was a reporter for the NY times. She was the only person to ever have a private interview with Jack Ruby.  She later told people she was going to blow the JFK assassination story wide open.  She was found dead in her NY apartment. Her death was ruled a suicide from a drug overdose.  Albert Bogard was a used car salesman who met a man who claimed he was Oswald at his car lot.  He later said the man was not the real Oswald. Bogard passed a lie detector and recieved death threats. He was found dead in his garage. A hose had been connected to his cars exhaust pipe and put in the window. His death was ruled a suicide. George DeMohrenschildt was a close friend of Oswald’s. DeMorenschildt worked for the CIA.  In March 1977, he committed suicide with a shotgun at his home in Florida hours before he was to be interviewed by an investigator from the HSCA.  Several high ranking mobsters were murdered before they could be brought to Washington D.C. to testify before the HSCA.   

What is the single bullet theory?

The single bullet theory was developed by Arlen Specter who was a junior lawyer on the Warren Commission.  The theory is that one of the bullets fired by Oswald from the School Book Depository hit JFK in the back of the neck, exited his throat, hit Gov. Connally in the back, struck one of his ribs, exited his chest, entered his wrist shattering it and then ended up in his thigh.  The bullet was later recovered from a stretcher in Parkland hospital.  The bullet was Commission exhibit 399 and had very little damage to it. It has been called ‘The Magic Bullet” by critiics of the Warren Commission. 

What are some of the problems with the single bullet theory?

First, Gov. Connally never agreed with it. Connally was an experienced hunter and testified that one bullet did not hit him and JFK.  Connally said he was hit by a separate bullet.  The surgeons who operated on Connally disagreed with the theory.  They said the trajectory of the bullet that wounded Connally proved it could not have hit JFK first. JFK’s shirt and coat prove the bullet entered his back several inches below his neck and could not possibly have exited from his throat.  Autopsy photos show the location of the back wound on JFK.  One of the pathologists at the autopsy stuck his finger in JFK’s back wound and could not feel any point of exit.  An Admiral present at the autopsy ordered the pathologists not to track the back wound. Tests done at firearms labs with the same ammunition that Oswald allegedly used show bullets that are flattened out completely after being fired into cadavers wrists.  More bullet fragments are present in Connally’s wrist X-rays than are missing from CE 399.

Is there evidence that JFK’s head wound was caused by a different type of ammunition than Oswald allegedly used?

Yes. X-rays of JFK’s skull reveal a snowflake pattern of small bullet fragments scattered throughout JFK’s brain. This is indicative of a hollow point or dum dum bullet that explodes on impact and fragments into dozens of pieces. This is the type of bullet often used by the Mafia and CIA because it is almost impossible to trace and causes massive damage to the victim. Oswald was allegedly using military jacketed ammunition which does does not explode into dozens of fragments like a hollow point bullet.

Were gunmen observed on the Grassy Knoll several days before JFK was killed?

Yes. On Wednesday, November 20, 1963 two Dallas police officers were driving down Elm Street through Dealey Plaza when they saw two men dressed in suits and ties standing behind the picket fence with high powered rifles. The policemen ran up the knoll however the men drove away in a car before the officers could catch them.  The police officers made a report about the incident. The report was buried by the FBI until the HSCA discovered it during their investigation of the assassination in the 1970’s.

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Interview with R. Gregory Lande, Author of The Abraham Man

 

abrahamR. Gregory Lande, DO is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities. Dr. Lande is the author of numerous medical and historical works. He lectures widely on both subjects.

 

Visit Dr. Lande online at http://www.medicallegalhistory.com/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Greg. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Abraham Man, is all about?

 

A:  The title of this work, The Abraham Man, probably evokes several different ideas about the book. In this case, the title has a definite meaning which directly relates to the book’s theme that malingering – in all its various forms – has actually propelled the growth of modern day medicine. Malingering prodded physicians in the nineteenth century to sharpen their diagnostic skills and through the process laid the foundation for psychiatry and neurology. For many centuries the Abraham Man was actually a well-recognized pejorative label affixed to malingerers.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: A clever criminal forces a detective to sharpen their investigative skills. In a similar manner, the malingerer is challenging the physician’s skills. In America’s nineteenth century the nascent field of medical legal practice was beginning. This opened up vast new opportunities for the Abraham Man to exploit. The growth and development of medical legal practice could never gain credible ground without confronting this diagnostic nemesis.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: My historical research was broad and deep since the whole idea of malingering was rarely documented. In some respects it must be like panning for gold. A huge amount of water is explored until –hopefully – a few small nuggets are found. Extensive exploration in newspapers, legal records, courts-martial records, books, and historical archives served as my “water”.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A:  Malingering, pretty much universally, is scorned. In my opinion that overlooks another facet of the behavior which paradoxically has helped sharpen medical diagnostic skills.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: “The explosive growth of civil and criminal litigation after the Civil War brought lawyers, doctors, and the Abraham Man together. In the beginning, most of the contests involved disputes over large estates. These early cases paved the way for more complex trials involving matters of insanity, mental competency, and an endless array of exculpatory mental maladies. The Abraham Man positively flourished.

Around this time, the practice of medical legal medicine began to take shape. Lawyers increasingly sought poised physicians able to contend with court room drama. Asylum doctors, given their daily contact with the mentally ill, seemed the natural choice. Another group not affiliated with the large institutions challenged the asylum doctors’ hegemony. In fairly short order these disparate camps coalesced around two dynamic doctors.”

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A: Yes. I have to give considerable credit to Algora Publishing. Although an author must write “a good story,” it also requires a publisher willing to take a calculated business risk.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A:I am psychiatrist and spend my time involved in the clinical, administrative, academic, and research activities of my profession.

Q: What’s next for you?

A:I alternate my writing and speaking between strictly medical topics and historical interests.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Greg.  We wish you much success!

A:Thank you!

 

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The Abraham Man by R. Gregory Lande

abraham

The mere mention of the insanity defense guarantees a lively debate. Opponents of the defense cite the loss of criminal culpability while proponents argue just as passionately that the insanity defense is the ultimate act of compassion. The protagonists would probably be quite surprised to learn that the same basic concerns consumed Americans in the nineteenth century. One factor – The Abraham Man – sowed the seeds of confusion and controversy that united the past with the present.

Some of the most celebrated civil and criminal trials in American history were argued under the shadow of the Abraham Man. The detailed stories of long forgotten legal cases bring the antics of the Abraham Man to life. Through the process, readers will follow the careers of notable Civil War era surgeons whose post-war professional development shaped the future of modern mental health care.

ALGORA PUBLISHING |AMAZON | BARNES AND NOBLE

R. Gregory Lande, DO is a physician and retired US Army Medical Corps Officer. Dr. Lande completed his medical education at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lande was commissioned an officer in the US Army. During his career in the military, Dr. Lande was active in a wide variety of clinical, academic and administrative positions. Upon leaving the US Army as a full colonel, Dr. Lande was awarded the Legion of Merit recognizing his career contributions. The next phase of his career involved administrative positions in hospital management, research, and teaching at various civilian facilities. Dr. Lande is the author of numerous medical and historical works. He lectures widely on both subjects.

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Pump Up Your Book Announces Letitia Fairbanks’ ‘Princess April Morning-Glory Virtual Blog Tour’

What kind of a world would you create, if you had to do three good deeds to make it home again? The answer to that crucial question, as given by the title character in Letitia Fairbanks’s charming fairy tale, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, tells a unique and captivating story. Although she lives a fabled life in a paradise called Fairyland, the princess makes a fateful decision to step outside of her cloistered existence to face the outside world and all of its Princess April Morning-Glory long bannertemptations. Once outside The Enchanted Forest, the princess longs to return home, but she is told by a benevolent wizard that she must first do three good deeds. She follows his sage advice and starts her journey home, performing three good deeds, peerless in the annals of fairy tales. But along the way, Princess April is tempted by the wicked Fairy Misery with the promise of riches and fabulous fairy wings if she remains in the outside world and does Misery’s bidding. Which life will Princess April choose?

For its writing, beautiful illustrations, and moral weight, PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY — written and illustrated by Letitia Fairbanks over seven decades ago — can be compared to such classics as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s THE LITTLE PRINCE and Walt Disney’s classic film FANTASIA.

 

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY also comes with a fascinating history. Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. When she was a little girl, Letitia’s family moved to Hollywood from Utah after Douglas Fairbanks

appointed his brother Robert, Letitia’s father, to be the production manager of United Artists, the film company formed by Fairbanks, Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and D. W. Griffith.

Letitia, who was born in 1913, spent much of her childhood through early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford, where she was surrounded by the luminaries of the time. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY in her twenties as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia derived inspiration for the illustrations from then-current Hollywood blockbuster films, as well as deriving her portraiture from a composite of that era’s celluloid legends, along with immediate family members including her mother, father and sister, Lucile. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

Princess April Morning-Glory banner

Despite the book’s glamorous provenance, it’s the story, detailed imagery, and moral framework of PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY that make it special, says Kelley Smoot Garrett, Letitia’s stepdaughter and the successor trustee of the Ella Letitia Fairbanks Smoot Family Trust. Kelley, born in Texas and raised in New York City, holds a bachelor of science in geological sciences from the University of Texas at Austin and worked as a consulting petroleum geologist from 1983-1995. She currently works in Austin as a business analyst/project manager for hi-tech companies.

Following the painstaking digital restoration of the original artwork by Kelley’s husband, Danny Garrett, who, like Letitia, is an artist, Kelley has been collaborating with Amanda Millner-Fairbanks, the granddaughter of Letitia Fairbanks and Kelley’s step-niece, to publish the long-lost manuscript. Amanda is a graduate of Smith College and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, and the Huffington Post.

PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY’S theme of, “you create your own destiny from the three good deeds you choose to do,” Kelley says, gives the book the potential to become a modern classic for all ages.

About The Author, Letitia Fairbanks

Letitia Fairbanks was the niece of the fabled silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford. Born in 1913, Letitia spent much of her childhood and early adulthood at Pickfair, the legendary estate built by Fairbanks and Pickford. When she started writing and illustrating PRINCESS APRIL MORNING-GLORY, in her twenties, as a homage to her recently-deceased uncle, Letitia used an ensemble of current celluloid legends as inspirations for her illustrations. The book was first copyrighted in 1941 and has not seen the light of day since.

In honor of Letitia, Kelley Smoot Garrett is sending Letitia Fairbanks’ children’s book, Princess April Morning-Glory on a virtual book tour February 4 – April 26 and is giving everyone a chance to win a free Kindle Fire HD!  If you would like to follow her tour or enter the giveaway, visit her tour page at Pump Up Your Book by clicking HERE.

Pump Up Your Book is an innovative public relations agency specializing in online book promotion & publicity for authors.

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A Conversation with ‘Saving Grace’ Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Pamela Fagan HutchinsPamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.

Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.

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Saving GraceQ: Thank you for this interview, Pamela. Can you tell us what your latest book, Saving Grace, is all about?

Thank you! Saving Grace is the story of Katie Connell, a Texas attorney whose life is one train wreck after another: too many Bloody Marys, a client who’s the Vanilla Ice of the NBA, and a thing for a Heathcliff-like co-worker. She takes refuge from it all on the island of St. Marcos, where she plans to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

First, there’s Katie. Oh, Katie, Katie, Katie. She’s the main character, a 30-something lawyer who vacuums her rugs backwards and is as much a danger to herself as the bad guys.

Nick is the object of her unreturned affections, an investigator in Dallas with a penchant for surf boards and bass guitars.

Ava is an island seductress who convinces Katie to become her new best friend and a second for her vocal duo.

Rashidi John befriends Katie when he introduces her to the jumbie house Annalise on one of his popular-with-the-ladies rainforest botany tours.

And then there’s Annalise, a giant abandoned house in the rainforest who shows her magical side to a chosen few, and, boy does she ever choose Katie.

Q: Do you ten­d to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I steal most of my characters from people whose big imprints on life inspire my creativity. But if fiction is life without the boring parts, my fictional characters are those people without them either. Their fictional bads are badder and their crazies are crazier.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I am a planner and a plotter, but the novel takes me wherever it ultimately wants to go. Kind of like my kids do, in real life. In Saving Grace, a character named Zane McMillan shows up who wreaked havoc on my carefully constructed outline. I had a heck of a time keeping him from hijacking the whole book. I love it when that happens.

Q: Your book is set in the Virgin Islands.  Can you tell us why you chose this area in particular?

The islands are magical. I lived on St. Croix for six years, and the people and the places just burned into my brain and my heart. I had no choice in the matter: Saving Grace set itself there.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The island setting, and the rainforest jumbie house Annalise in particular, are pivotal to the story. In the islands, Katie can embrace the magic in herself and the world around her, whereas she is much too pragmatic for that kind of nonsense back in Texas.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Katie is throwing caution and common sense to the wind and is about to make an offer to purchase a half-finished abandoned house in the rainforest because she believes she and the jumbie spirit offer each other a chance at mutual salvation.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

Sure, here’s one I really like:

We had hiked for nearly two hours when Rashidi gave us a hydration break and announced that we were nearing the turnaround point, which would be a special treat: a modern ruin. As we leaned on smooth kapok trees and sucked on our Lululemon water bottles, Rashidi explained that a bad man, a thief, had built a beautiful mansion in paradise ten years before, named her Annalise, and then left her forsaken and half-complete. No one had ever finished her and the rainforest had moved fast to claim her. Wild horses roamed her halls, colonies of bats filled her eaves, and who knows what lived below her in the depths of her cisterns. We would eat our lunch there, then turn back for the hike down.

When the forest parted to reveal Annalise, we all drew in a breath. She was amazing: tall, austere, and a bit frightening. Our group tensed with anticipation. It was like the first day of the annual Parade of Homes, where people stood in lines for the chance to tour the crème de la crème of Dallas real estate, except way better. We were visiting a mysterious mansion with a romantic history in a tropical rainforest. Ooh là là.

Graceful flamboyant trees, fragrant white-flowered frangipanis, and grand pillars marked the entrance to her gateless drive. On each side of the overgrown road, Rashidi pointed out papaya stalks, soursop, and mahogany trees. The fragrance was pungent, the air drunk with fermenting mangos and ripening guava, all subtly undercut by the aroma of bay leaves. It was a surreal orchard, its orphaned fruit unpicked, the air heavy and still, bees and insects the only thing stirring besides our band of turistas. Overhead, the branches met in the middle of the road and were covered in the trailing pink flowers I’d admired the day before, which Rashidi called pink trumpet vines. The sun shone through the canopy in narrow beams and lit our dim path.

A young woman in historic slave garb was standing on the front steps, peering at us from under the hand that shaded her eyes, her gingham skirt whipping in the breeze. She looked familiar. As we came closer, she turned and walked back inside. I turned to ask Rashidi if we were going to tour the inside of the house, but he was talking to a skeletally thin New Yorker who wanted details on the mileage and elevation gain of our hike for her Garmin.

Q: Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

I’m in a perpetual state of writer’s block, or recovery from it. The first thing I do when I feel it coming on is change locations or go outside. If I can’t nip it in the bud, I talk it out with my husband/muse. If it persists, I force myself to write something else — anything to keep me writing. I am a big believer that creativity happens when you’re putting in the work. I had a huge episode of block while writing the sequel to Saving Grace. It took me two months of other writing before the block broke and I could get back to the islands.

Q: What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

I’d love to say I’d run six miles or snuggle in the front of the fire with my husband, but it’s a lie. If I had an extra hour, I’d keep writing, but I’d at least play footsie (very vigorously) with him on the couch while I did it.

Q: Which already published book do you wish that you had written and why?

I wish I had written Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, because of the characters: unforgettable, flawed, and larger than life. Gus and Woodrow, oh, how I love thee.

Q: What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors regarding getting their books out there?

More than ever, a fiction author must be fearless and relentless. The number of books published a year is growing exponentially, and you can’t just write yours and hope someone else will sell it for you. You need a marketing plan and an entrepreneurial spirit. It doesn’t hurt if you have a lot of support, too.

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Read-a-Chapter: Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the mystery, women’s fiction, Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Enjoy!

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Saving Grace

Click on cover to purchase at Amazon!

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Skipjack Publishing (September 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0988234807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0988234802

If you’re at all inclined to be swept away to the islands to fall in love with a rainforest jumbie house and a Texas attorney who is as much a danger to herself as the island bad guys, then dive headfirst with Katie Connell into Saving Grace.

Katie escapes professional humiliation, a broken heart, and her Bloody Mary-habit when she runs to the island of St. Marcos to investigate the suspicious deaths of her parents. But she trades one set of problems for another when she is bewitched by the voodoo spirit Annalise in an abandoned rainforest house and, as worlds collide, finds herself reluctantly donning her lawyer clothes again to defend her new friend Ava, who is accused of stabbing her very married Senator-boyfriend.

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Chapter One

Last year sucked, and this one was already worse.

Last year, when my parents died in an “accident” on their Caribbean vacation, I’d been working too hard to listen to my instincts, which were screaming “bullshit” so loud I almost went deaf in my third ear. I was preparing for the biggest case of my career, so I sort of had an excuse that worked for me as long as I showed up for happy hour, but the truth was, I was obsessed with the private investigator assigned to my case.

Nick. Almost-divorced Nick. My new co-worker Nick who sometimes sent out vibes that he wanted to rip my Ann Taylor blouse off with his teeth, when he wasn’t busy ignoring me.

But things had changed.

I’d just gotten the verdict back in my mega-trial, the Burnside wrongful termination case. My firm rarely took plaintiff cases, so I’d taken a big risk with this one—and won Mr. Burnside three million dollars, of which the firm got a third. That was the total opposite of suck.

After my coup at the Dallas courthouse, my paralegal Emily and I headed straight down I-20 to the hotel where our firm was on retreat in Shreveport, Louisiana. Shreveport is not on the top ten list for most company getaways, but our senior partner fancied himself a poker player, and loved Cajun food, jazz, and riverboat casinos. The retreat was a great excuse for Gino to indulge in a little Texas Hold ’Em between teambuilding and sensitivity sessions and still come off looking like a helluva guy, but it meant a three and a half hour drive each way. This wasn’t a problem for Emily and me. We bridged both the paralegal-to-attorney gap and the co-worker-to-friend gap with ease, largely because neither of us did Dallas-fancy very well. Or at all.

Emily and I hustled inside for check-in at the Eldorado.

“Do you want a map of the ghost tours?” the front desk clerk asked us, her polyglot Texan-Cajun-Southern accent making tours sound like “turs.”

“Why, thank you kindly, but no thanks,” Emily drawled. In the ten years since she’d left, she still hadn’t shaken Amarillo from her voice or given up barrel-racing horses.

I didn’t believe in hocus pocus, either, but I wasn’t a fan of casinos, which reeked of cigarette smoke and desperation. “Do y’all have karaoke or anything else but casinos onsite?”

“Yes, ma’am, we have a rooftop bar with karaoke, pool tables, and that kind of thing.” The girl swiped at her bangs, then swung her head to put them back in the same place they’d been.

“That sounds more like it,” I said to Emily.

“Karaoke,” she said. “Again.” She rolled her eyes. “Only if we can do tradesies halfway. I want to play blackjack.”

After we deposited our bags in our rooms and freshened up, talking to each other on our cell phones the whole time we were apart, we joined our group. All of our co-workers broke into applause as we entered the conference room. News of our victory had preceded us. We curtsied, and I used both arms to do a Vanna White toward Emily. She returned the favor.

“Where’s Nick?” I called out. “Come on up here.”

Nick had left the courtroom when the jury went out to deliberate, so he’d beaten us here. He stood up from a table on the far side of the room, but didn’t join us in front. I gave him a long distance Vanna White anyway.

The applause died down and some of my partners motioned for me to sit with them at a table near the entrance. I joined them and we all got to work writing a mission statement for the firm for the next fifteen minutes. Emily and I had arrived just in time for the first day’s sessions to end.

When we broke, the group stampeded from the hotel to the docked barge that housed the casino. In Louisiana, gambling is only legal “on the water” or on tribal land. On impulse, I walked to the elevator instead of the casino. Just before the doors closed, a hand jammed between them and they bounced apart, and I found myself headed up to the hotel rooms with none other than Nick Kovacs.

“So, Helen, you’re not a gambler either,” he said as the elevator doors closed.

My stomach flipped. Cheesy, yes, but when he was in a good mood, Nick called me Helen—as in Helen of Troy.

I had promised to meet Emily for early blackjack before late karaoke, but he didn’t need to know that. “I have the luck of the Irish,” I said. “Gambling is dangerous for me.”

He responded with dead silence. Each of us looked up, down, sideways, and anywhere but at each other, which was hard, since the elevator was mirrored above a gold handrail and wood paneling. There was a wee bit of tension in the air.

“I heard there’s a pool table at the hotel bar, though, and I’d be up for that,” I offered, throwing myself headlong into the void and holding my breath on the way down.

Dead silence again. Long, dead silence. The ground was going to hurt when I hit it.

Without making eye contact, Nick said, “OK, I’ll meet you there in a few minutes.”

Did he really say he’d meet me there? Just the two of us? Out together? Oh my God, Katie, what have you done?

The elevator doors dinged, and we headed in opposite directions to our rooms. It was too late to back out now.

I moved in a daze. Hyperventilating. Pits sweating. Heart pounding. My outfit was all wrong, so I ditched the Ann Taylor for some jeans, a structured white blouse, and, yes, I admit it, a multi-colored Jessica Simpson handbag and her coordinating orange platform sandals. White works well against my long, wavy red hair, which I unclipped and finger-combed over my shoulders. Not very attorney-like, but that was the point. Besides, I didn’t even like being an attorney, so why would I want to look like one now?

Normally I am Katie Clean, but I settled on a quick brush of my teeth, a French shower, and lipstick. I considered calling Emily to tell her I was no-showing, but I knew she would understand when I explained later. I race-walked to the elevators and cursed them as they stopped on every other floor before the Rooftop Grotto.

Ding. Finally. I stopped to catch my breath. I counted to ten, took one last gulp for courage, and stepped under the dim lights above the stone-topped bar. I stood near a man whose masculinity I could feel pulsing from several feet away. Heat flamed in my cheeks. My engine raced. Just the man I’d come to see.

Nick was of Hungarian descent, and he had his gypsy ancestors to thank for his all-over darkness—eyes, hair, and skin—and sharp cheekbones. He had a muscular ranginess that I loved, but he wasn’t traditionally handsome. His nose was large-ish and crooked from being broken too many times. He’d once told me that a surfboard to the mouth had given him his snaggled front tooth. But he was gorgeous in an undefined way, and I often saw from the quick glances of other women that I wasn’t the only one in the room who noticed.

Now he noticed me. “Hi, Helen.”

“Hi, Paris,” I replied.

He snorted. “Oh, I am definitely not your Paris. Paris was a wimp.”

“Hmmmmm. Menelaus, then?”

“Um, beer.”

“I’m pretty sure there was no one named Beer in the story of Helen of Troy,” I said, sniffing in a faux-superior way.

Nick spoke to the bartender. “St. Pauli Girl.” He finally gave me the Nick grin, and the tension left over from our elevator ride disappeared. “Want one?”

I needed to gulp more than air for courage. “Amstel Light.”

Nick placed the order. The bartender handed Nick two beers beaded with moisture, then shook water from his hands. Nick handed mine to me and I wrapped a napkin around it, lining up the edges with the military precision I adored. Nick sang under his breath, his head bobbing side to side. Honky-tonk Woman.

“I think I like you better in Shreveport than Dallas,” I said.

“Thanks, I think. And I like seeing you happy. I guess it’s been a tough year for you, losing your parents and all. Here’s to that smile,” he said, holding his beer aloft toward me.

The toast almost stopped my heart. He was spot-on about the tough part, but I did better when I kept the subject of my parents buried with them. I clinked his bottle but couldn’t look at him while I did it. “Thanks, Nick, very much.”

“Want to play pool?” he asked.

“Let’s do it.”

I was giddy, the sophomore girl out with the senior quarterback. We both loved music, so we talked about genres, bands (his old band, Stingray, and “real” bands), my minor in music at Baylor, and LSD, AKA lead-singer disease. Over a bucket of beers, we swapped stories about high school, and he told me he’d once rescued an injured booby.

“An injured booby?” I asked. “Implants or natural? Eight ball in corner pocket.” I sank it.

He gathered the balls out of the pockets and positioned them in the rack while I ground my cue tip in blue chalk and blew off the excess. “You’re so land-locked. A booby is a bird, Katie.”

I rolled his use of my real name back and forth in my brain, enjoying how it felt.

“I was out surfing, and I found a booby that couldn’t fly. I carried it back home and took care of it until I could set it free.”

“Oh, my gosh! How bad did it smell? Did it peck you? I’ll bet your Mom was thrilled!” I talked fast, in endless exclamation points. Embarrassing. I was a Valley Girl on acid, like Oh-My-Gawd. “It was in shock, so it was calm, but every day it got wilder. I was fourteen, and my mom was happy I wasn’t in my room holding some girl’s real booby, so she was fine with it. It smelled really bad after a few days, though.”

I broke. Balls clacked and ricocheted in every direction, and a striped one tumbled into a side pocket. “Stripes,” I called. “So, your mom had caught you before holding a girl’s booby, huh?”

“Um, I didn’t say that . . .” he said, and stuttered to a stop.

I was more smitten than ever.

“Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover” was playing in the background. I hadn’t heard that song in years. It got me thinking. For months, I had been fighting off the urge to slip my arms around Nick’s neck and bite the back of it, but I was aware that most people would consider that inappropriate at work. Pretty small-minded of them, if you asked me. I eyed the large balcony outside the bar and thought that if I could just maneuver Nick out there, maybe I could make it happen.

My chances seemed good enough until one of our colleagues walked in. Tim was of counsel at the firm. “Of counsel” meant he was too old to be called an associate, but he wasn’t a rainmaker. Plus, he wore his pants pulled up an inch too high in the waist. The firm would never make him a partner. Nick and I locked eyes. Until now, we’d been two shortwave radios on the same channel, the signal crackling between us. But now the dial had turned to static and his eyes clouded over. He stiffened and moved subtly away from me.

He hailed Tim up. “Hey, Tim, over here.”

Tim waved to us and walked across the smoky bar. Everything moved in slow motion as he came closer, step by ponderous step. His feet echoed as they hit the floor, reverberating no . . . no . . . no . . . Or maybe I was saying it aloud. I couldn’t tell, but it made no difference.

“Hey, Tim, this is great. Grab a beer; let’s play some pool.”

Oh, please tell me Nick didn’t just invite Tim to hang out with us. He could have given him a short “hey how ya doing have a nice night I was just leaving” shpiel, or anything else for that matter, but no, he had asked Tim to join us.

Tim and Nick looked at me for affirmation.

I entertained a fleeting fantasy in which I executed a perfect side kick to Tim’s gut and he started rolling around on the floor with the dry heaves. What good were the thirteen years of karate my father had insisted on if I couldn’t use it at times like these? “Every woman should be able to defend herself, Katie,” Dad would say as he dropped me off at the dojo.

Maybe this wasn’t technically a physical self-defense moment, but Tim’s arrival had dashed my hopes for the whole neck-bite thing, and all that could have come after it. Wasn’t that reason enough?

I cast out the image. “Actually, Tim, why don’t you take over for me? I was in trial all week, and I’m exhausted. We have an early start tomorrow. It’s the last day of our retreat, the grande finale for the Hailey & Hart team.” I handed my pool cue to Tim.

Tim thought this was a fine idea. It was clear women scared him. If I had hoped for an argument from Nick, though, I didn’t get one. He reverted to his outside-of-work “Katie who?” act.

All I got from him was “Goodnight,” with neither a Helen nor a Katie tacked on.

I grabbed another Amstel Light from the bar for the plod back to my room.

Reprinted with permission from Saving Grace by Pamela Fagan Hutchins. © 2012 by Skipjack Publishing

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Read-a-Chapter: Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido

Read a Chapter is *NEW* added feature at As the Pages Turn! Here you’ll be able to read the first chapters of books of all genres to see if you like them before you buy them. Today we are featuring the erotica romance/romantic comedy, Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. Enjoy!

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Shuffle Up and Deal

    • Print Length: 427 pages
    • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 145058859X
    • Publisher: Neon Fiction (March 3, 2010)
    • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.

Meet Izzy Santillo. She’s a charming-but-lonely thirty-four year old woman who loves poker and harbors a secret crush on the reigning king of Hold ‘em.

Meet Nick Nolan, the reigning king of Hold ‘em. On the tables, he’s fast and loose and almost always wins. But when it comes to women, playboy Nick holds his cards too close and always loses.

When Izzy and Nick meet in embarrassing fashion at a Las Vegas poker tournament, Izzy’s secret dreams turn into a public nightmare. But despite her humiliation, she may have finally sparked Nick’s interest in something other than cards. Before long, Nick takes a gamble on Izzy and raises the stakes when he offers to help her sharpen her game. But Izzy’s convinced that Nick is bluffing and will fold his hand after he’s had her on the flop. But a string of outrageous proposition bets and steamy trips on the poker tour, from Los Angeles to Miami, make these two fierce competitors realize that it may be time to put all their chips on the table. Will Izzy and Nick pair up? Or will they lose it all if they go all-in for each other? Sit down, ante up, and hang on, as Nick and Izzy get ready to Shuffle Up and Deal.

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Chapter One

“Izzy,” he whispers in my ear as he nudges me from behind.  It’s gentle, but I was in a deep sleep, so I’m groggy and slow to respond.

I had forgotten he was even here.  My boyfriend du-jour.  It’s an on and off relationship that, for tonight at least, is on.

He pushes his body closer, spooning me, wrapping an arm around my waist.  His breath is warm and sultry in my ear.  His erection is pressed against my thigh.  “You awake, Iz?”

“Mmm,” I mumble, slowly swimming back up from the depths of sleep to regain conscious thought.
His hand moves under the covers, caresses the front of my thigh and starts pulling up my nightgown.  His hand is sure and soft, the fabric silky as it glides across my skin.  “Wake up,” he urges as his hand moves back down, between my legs.

“Sleepy,” I murmur.  I could easily go back to sleep.  But the sad fact is that since we’re more “off” than “on,” I really don’t get much fun in the sack, so I’m happy to forego sleep for sex tonight.

“I’ll make it worth your while,” he says as he gently but firmly coaxes my thighs apart.  I’m mostly awake, but still hovering on the brink, too lazy to engage with him, but also lacking the will to resist, mostly just content to wait a few seconds and see if I’ll wake up enough or doze back off.  He moves back from me slightly, his hand holding my inner thigh, leveraging to pull that leg back as he agilely shimmies himself between my legs and rolls me on my back.  He’s warm and I like the weight of him on top of me, the warmth of his groin pressed against mine.  Awake enough now that I could engage, I still play it lazy and just sigh and keep my eyes closed.

“I know you’re awake,” he says, calling my bluff.  He kisses the side of my cheek, uses one elbow for support as he reaches between us to tug at my nightgown again.  Quickly, it’s up over my hips, so we’re skin on skin contact below the waist.  I grin, realizing he must not have just rolled over and started in on me.  He must’ve been horny enough and taken the time to pull off his boxers and pull on the condom before waking me up.

I decide to tease him a bit for it.  Asking, “What would you have done if I hadn’t woken up?”  What I’m hoping for is a little bit of dirty talk.

“I knew you were awake,” is all he says as he goes for the top of my nightgown, pushing the skinny strap to the side and then gliding his whole hand beneath the silk to cup my breast.  He gives a firm squeeze as the heat of his palm makes my nipple react as I keep my eyes closed in blind surrender, heightening the other sensations.  As my nipple hardens, he rubs and squeezes again, grinds his hips to press his erection right up against me.

A sigh escapes me.

“You ready?” he asks me.

“Doubtful.”

He goes to work kissing me.  He really is an excellent kisser.  He slips me some tongue as his fingers playfully pinch around my nipple.  He slides down, kisses my neck, warming me inside and out.

I’m getting tuned up, definitely.  Flushed skin, those wonderful quivery feelings running through my blood as he dips down and catches my nipple in his mouth.  No fooling around taunting me, he sucks.  And sucks.  It rocks me.

Taking a breath, he asks me again, “You ready?”
Eyes still closed, reveling in the dreaminess mixing with the rushes, I say, “Go ahead and check.”  That’s what I’m longing for now, for his hand to reach down and stroke me, build the heat right there.

But he declines.  Instead answering, “You’re ready.”  He scootches back up, reaching down and taking hold of himself instead of pleasuring me.  His skin is fevered, his shoulders taut under my hands, and already there’s a trace of humidity and salt in the air between us.  Though I can’t see it, I can feel his hand moving as he strokes himself a few times.  It drives me crazy with heat and I lift my hips in offering.

Wordless, he aligns himself and thrusts inside of me.  I was ready, and he glides in, filling me up, making me sigh again.

“Good to go?” he asks as he pumps a few times.

“Go,” I tell him, pulling his shoulders down closer to me so I get the full heat of his body.

“Going,” he says, picking up the pace quickly.  He props himself on his elbows for more leverage so I release his shoulders and raise my knees, wrapping my legs around his waist.  “Going harder,” he tells me as he pumps more furiously.

I still don’t open my eyes, instead reveling in the physical sensations and conjuring images of what we look like.  Hot.  We look hot.  It feels so good, him jacking away inside me, the heat between us.  Instead of watching, I imagine Nick’s face this way.  I’m fantasizing about him watching me.  I can feel beads of sweat forming at my hairline, I know my mouth tightens and muscles twitch when he suddenly goes harder, quite hard, quite deep.

I moan and then bite my lower lip as he starts panting above me.  I can imagine his face perfectly like this.  His deep blue eyes staring rapt as he makes me react beneath his control.  His well chiseled jaw, his normally serene, unreadable face betraying him now.  There’s no way he’d be able to keep that mask in place as he drives into me with power, as I clench tight around him and thrust back against him.

“Izzy,” he pants.

“Keep going,” I encourage him, but I can tell this late-night round won’t last much longer because he’s straining and panting, giving it to me with all he’s got.  So I take matters into my own hands.  I reach between us, the heat palpable to my hand, and slide a few fingers across my clit.  No fooling around, I press hard and rub furiously, already sensitive and responding.

“So hot,” he says, and I know he’s watching me.  He barely loses a pump but I know he’s watching me work myself into a frenzy beneath him.

God, imagining Nick watching me and getting off on it just prods me along.  Shameless, I’m utterly shameless about it.  I know just what he’d look like, hovering over me, his long, lanky frame, his buttocks clenching with each and every delicious pump.  His face betraying every ripple of intense pleasure.  “Oh,” I moan as I feel him tense, know he’s close.

I’m right on the edge, but I need a little more, just a little more time.  My hand strokes furiously, I buck against him.  “Keep going,” I plead with him.

“Close,” he says, and I know it’s my warning.

“Please.  Please!  Keep going,” I tell him again, setting myself on edge.  “Keep going, Nick!”

“Oh, no,” he grunts, then rasps my name.  Pained sounding, but still frantically pumping.

“Oh Nick!”

“No! Izzy!” he howls again, but his hips thrust, seemingly involuntarily.

“No,” I tell him, but I’m so close now it might not matter.  “Not yet, Nick!  Keep going!”

“Coming.” He says that quietly and the pumping stops, but my hand doesn’t.  Luckily, I’m there.  Just a couple more rough rubs and I erupt, coming with him still buried inside me, clenching around him, the mental image of his face watching me egging me on to milk every last aftershock.

Rapt in the hazy glow, I’m catching my breath as he pulls out and climbs off of me and rolls to the other side of the bed.  A harsh edge to his voice as he says, “You did it again.”

“Mmm?”  I ask distantly, still sprawled out and pleasantly holding my hand to crotch.

Over his shoulder, he hisses, “You said his name again!”

My eyes snap open and the glow evaporates.  Ashamed now, I close my legs and wiggle upright as I arrange the nightgown to hurriedly cover myself up.  Softly, I say, “I’m sorry.”  I reach out a hand but he moves away and sits up and gets off the bed.  He stalks over to the chair in the corner where his clothes are neatly folded and grabs his pants.

“Andy,” I say.  “Don’t go.  I really am sorry.”

“Hmph.  At least you do know my name.”

“Don’t be silly.”

“Silly!” He shouts it.  “You think it’s silly of me to be upset that my girlfriend called another man’s name while we were making love?”

I know he’s pissed, and I don’t blame him.  I feel guilty and deserve his anger.  And I will gladly grovel and make it up to him.  But right now it’s the middle of the night and I just want to defuse the situation, so I try to cajole him and lighten him up.  Coyly asking, “Would you rather I called his name while I was having sex with you?  Or would you rather I call your name while I have sex with him?”

He gives his shirt a snap in the air but doesn’t miss a beat.  Says, “That’s a flawed question, Isabella, and you know it.”

“Why?”

He does stop fiddling with his clothes as he looks at me and says, “It’s flawed because it’s unrealistic.  You can’t sleep with him.”

“I know!” I say cheerily.  “So it’s not like I’m cheating on you.”

Exasperated, “Please,” is all he says as he starts pulling the shirt on.  “I just don’t understand it.  You don’t even know this person.  What could you possibly be so attracted to?”

I know that this is not the place for me to respond honestly.  His tall, lanky body, his penetrating eyes, his beautiful little mouth, but, mostly, how incredibly sexy it is to watch him at the poker tables.  How, with just a glance, he can seemingly see and understand everything the other players are thinking.  And yet, I can never see the machinery in his mind working.  He’s completely unreadable.  Like the most glassy-surfaced lake that plunges to unknown depths.  All that intelligence and intuition are just…

Andy is staring at me, and I wonder if he can tell what I was just thinking about.  He looks cross. “You’re unbelievable,” he says, buttoning up.

Shit.  He could tell.

“Andy, please.  You’re right.  You’re absolutely right.  It was terrible of me and I’m so sorry.  But please don’t leave.  It’s the middle of the night and it’s cold and rainy out there.  Tomorrow is Easter!  Just come back to bed and I’ll make it up to you.”

He picks up his socks and shoes and takes a seat in the chair, but he stops dressing.  Says, “I just don’t even have a fundamental understanding of what you’re attracted to.  You don’t know him, Izzy!”

“I know,” I say with a shrug.  Then, “What attracts you to Jessica Simpson?”

“Stop it,” he says.  “There’s a basic difference between men and women and how we process attraction.  Men are visually stimulated.  Women intellectually.”

“Well, maybe I just have some male tendencies is all,” I say, lying.

“I don’t call out the name Jessica when we’re making love!”

“So you’d prefer I call out the name of someone I know, then?  Perhaps it’d be better if I’d fantasize about one of your friends?”

“Perhaps I’d prefer if you’d fantasize about me and call out my name!”

He’s got me there.  If I wanted to turn this around on him, I could start a real brawl by pointing out that it hasn’t escaped my attention how much attention he lavishes on Jennifer every time she’s around.  I could point out how I’ve caught him being visually stimulated by her while I was sitting right next to him.  But I don’t want to do that, because what I have done is wrong.  It’s not about winning this fight so much as about reassuring him and making it up to him.  I’ve hurt him.  Worse, maybe he’s worried because next week I’m going to Vegas, and there is a small chance I could run into Nick.

Realizing that, I feel even worse, and even somewhat flattered.  Maybe Andy’s just worried and jealous.  But I’d never cheat on him.  I just need to reassure him.  So I bite my tongue and measure my words and say, “Andy.  I am really sorry.  And you’re right about all this.  I promise I’ll stop thinking about him.  But for right now, you don’t need to worry anyhow.  Like you said, I don’t know him, so there’s no chance we’d ever be together.”

“Oh, don’t flatter yourself, Iz.”  With that, he starts pulling on his socks.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, darling, that even if you did know him, you wouldn’t be sleeping with him.”  He pauses to pull on a shoe, then looks me in the face as he says, “Don’t get your hopes about that trip to Vegas.  Sure, you might meet him.  But remember, men are stimulated visually, Iz.”

I drop my gaze and pull the blanket up to cover myself, twice as ashamed of myself now.  Andy’s right, of course.  That’s why the comment stings.  There’s nothing Nick Nolan would ever see in geeky me.

Across the room, Andy rises, and I realize how badly I’ve screwed up.  He’s a decent, good-looking, smart guy, and I’ve alienated him by not appreciating what I have.  Worse, I’ve hurt him.  “I’m really sorry,” I whisper.

“And do you really have to be so slutty all the time?”

“Sorry,” I say, knowing what he means.

“I know we’re familiar and all, and it’s hot in a pornographic way that you like to get off.  But you’re just so selfish and slutty about it.  It’s pretty off-putting afterward.”

“You woke me up,” I say.

“I woke you up.  You got yourself off, though.”

“Someone had to do it,” I mutter under my breath.

“You know, babe, you should try appreciating me more.  I’m a great guy, Izzy, and I’ve been good to you over the years.”

“I know,” I answer.

“Sweet dreams, Isabelle,” he hisses as he walks out the door.

But that just sparks my anger.  He knows I hate that.  I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help myself.  “Isabella!” I shout after him, just before the back door slams shut.

I stew in it a minute.  I’m a shit, without question.  But he does oogle Jennifer in front of me. I flop back on the bed and close my eyes and indulge myself with visions of Nick Nolan.  Sweet dreams, indeed.

 

Reprinted with permission from Shuffle Up and Deal by Susan DiPlacido. © 2010 by Neon Fiction

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